Hill Climbers: A Lucky Move

Posted June 17, 2008 at 6:40pm

Joyce Rose didn’t want to work in transportation and infrastructure. Having earned a degree in music education, she planned to become a teacher. But when her husband’s job took her to Washington, D.C., and there were no teaching positions available, Rose resigned herself to a position with what is now the American Forest and Paper Association that would change the course of her career. After some time with that organization, a boss who had left there for a career on Capitol Hill encouraged Rose to do the same.

[IMGCAP(1)]“She kind of badgered me,” Rose joked.

Good thing she did. Rose took another job, this time with a Senate Appropriations subcommittee dealing with transportation. More than a decade later she moved to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where she specialized in transit issues for the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. Now she has been promoted to Republican staff director for the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

“I never thought I’d be doing that,” Rose said. “This wasn’t the master plan, but I’m certainly glad that things have worked out the way they have.”

Her most memorable moment of the past 20 years is working through the night during the final days of conference negotiations for SAFETEA-LU, a 2005 surface transportation authorization bill. She recalled taking uncomfortable naps on a couch that was two feet too short.

“Even the Members felt sorry for us staff during that last week,” she said. “They’d come up and pat me on the shoulder, saying ‘Hang in there. It’s almost over.’”

The hard work is rewarding, though, Rose said.

“[Transportation is] such a bipartisan issue. Everybody wants good transportation and infrastructure for their constituents,” Rose said. “I feel like it’s an area where you can really get things done, where you can really help the economy and really help people in their everyday lives.”

Rose enjoys directing her church choir, which allows her to indulge in her earlier passions of music and teaching.

“You’ve got to keep your hand in, like in any skill,” she said. “And I do love to teach.”

Rose and her husband, Dale, have two sons, one of whom recently graduated from Drexel University and has inherited an interest in travel from his parents. But his own exotic getaways will have to be put on hold for a while.

“He can start planning his travels once he starts pulling down a salary,” Rose said with a laugh.

Rose’s younger son is autistic, and her family has found support and lasting friendship with fellow members of the Autism Society of America.

“It’s been a wonderful and humbling experience to raise a child who has a serious disability,” she said. “But he’s a happy guy. We love him.”

She said just meeting other parents who understand the challenges of raising an autistic child has made being part of it worthwhile.

“It’s just the opportunity to make friends that will last a lifetime, people who know where you’re coming from,” she said.

A Wake Forest Welcome. David Ward of Raleigh, N.C., recently started his new job as deputy press secretary to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). They shared a common bond before Ward even started in Burr’s office — both men graduated from Wake Forest University.

“Sen. Burr is a great guy, and it is very nice to be working for my home-state Senator,” Ward said. “We are also both Wake Forest fans, which is icing on the cake.”

Ward, 25, got his start in Washington almost by accident, while visiting D.C. with a friend who was interviewing with offices on the Hill. He decided to drop off his résumé at a few offices, and he landed an internship that has kept him on the Hill ever since.

“I fell in love with D.C. and the Hill and decided to stay,” he said.

When he’s not writing press releases, scheduling interviews and doing outreach for Burr, Ward plays Hill league softball and enjoys surfing, golf, hunting and fishing.

Ward is a music buff and has traveled up and down the East Coast to see favorite bands such as Widespread Panic. But there is one band he would still like to see.

“If Led Zeppelin decides to play any more dates after last year’s charity event, I would do whatever it takes to see them,” he said.

Ward is particularly proud of a vegetable garden he keeps in front of his house.

“I do enjoy cooking,” he said. “I’m looking forward to using ingredients from the front yard.”

If he were to offer advice to new Hill staffers, Ward said he would encourage them to get exposure to different positions within the office, working with legislative assistants, the press staff and others to determine which route to pursue.

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